Lindsay Hill network control, visibility, management

ThousandEyes - NOC for the Internet?

ThousandEyes is a network monitoring company that provides application performance visibility across the Internet. They don’t just show how an application is performing, but can identify where across the Internet issues are occurring. Ethan Banks has written up some of the use cases. Recently I realised I could start thinking of them as a “NOC for the Internet.”

I was fortunate enough to attend Network Field Day 8, where ThousandEyes was one of the presenters. During their presentation Mohit Lad gave a demonstration of using ThousandEyes to investigate performance issues:

The problem with troubleshooting issues across the Internet is that it’s hard to get the complete visibility you need to track down where issues are happening. ThousandEyes helps, by giving you more viewpoints, but there’s still limits. Most of us can’t afford to run tests from hundreds of different public & private locations.

Interpreting data is also a challenge. ThousandEyes has done their best to make the data usable, but you might not have the networking resources to be able to fully understand what’s going on. You need both wider visibility, and the experience to fully interpret it.

That’s why I was very pleased to hear the exchange starting around 7:20 in the video. If you’re a customer, trying to understand the source of performance issues, you can contact the ThousandEyes support team, and ask for their help. I thought the support was primarily about how to use the product, and interpret the data, but it goes further than that. They can use their broader view and knowledge to help figure out what’s going on.

If there’s a large-scale event happening, it’s probably affecting many ThousandEyes customers. So there’s a fair chance that they’ll already know what’s going on. This puts them in a central position, between customers, ISPs and SaaS providers. They can’t fix it themselves, but they should know who needs to fix it. They become like a NOC for the Internet. Do they take it to the next level of actively contacting the provider with a fault?

Could they then become a neutral clearing-house for Internet faults? I had originally thought that Enterprises and SaaS providers were the target market for ThousandEyes, but perhaps ISPs are also their customers?

I was hugely impressed when I first saw them at Network Field Day 6, and I remain so. I think they are solving real problems affecting almost all organisations, and their price-point makes it an easy decision. I’m pleased to see they are continuing to grow and develop.

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